“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
The Big Message: Your effectiveness is not determined by how much time you have; it is determined by what you do with the time you have. Be a wise and effective steward of the time God has given you. Today is a gift from God; you will not get a second chance at it. Invest wisely.
Ephesians 5 speaks to something that is incredibly important to everyone: Time. It’s interesting — and important — that Paul links together how we walk, how we use our time, wisdom, and the will of God. No matter what job you have, no matter your personal or professional situation, a successful life requires the wise investment of time.
Psalm 90.12 speaks to the relationship between wisdom and how we manage our time: “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” We are finite; God is infinite. In order to maximize our impact during our limited time on earth, we must seek insight and teaching from the perspective of the infinite-personal Creator. The Lord sees from the vantage point of eternity; we see from the limited vantage point of our lifetime.
Psalm 39.4 is another prayer that petitions the Lord to give us a wise perspective about the time (days) of our life: “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am.”
The point of these two verses from Psalms is not to minimize or marginalize the importance of your life; quite the opposite. The point is to see your life in perspective. To see your life strategically. To motivate and encourage you to be disciplined about the time you do have. God has placed you in this time and place in human history … so make the most of it. No wasted days.
Paul gives us a powerful way to think about making the most of our time. The Ephesians passage tells us to “redeem” our time. The word for redeem is exagorazo, which is a marketplace term that means “to purchase, buy up, or buy back.” Galatians uses the same word for Christ redeeming us from the curse of the Law.
Other translations render this word with “making the best use of” your time, which accurately reflects what Paul is admonishing us to do.
Every day you make decisions about how to invest your time. You can give your time to the things of the world, or you can invest your time in the things of the kingdom of God. You can spend your time guided by the impulses and desires of the old nature, or you can invest your time with intention and purpose guided by your new nature in Christ. You can spend your time foolishly, or you can invest your time wisely.
The point Paul is making, the image he is painting, is that in order to invest time wisely you must first “look carefully” and then you must “redeem the time.” The easy thing is to follow your impulses and get caught up in the popular activities and habits of the surrounding culture. The natural thing is to spend your time the same way and on the same things as everyone else.
But Paul is saying, “Don’t spend your time like everyone else. Stop and think before you give your time to something. Look at your time from a kingdom perspective. Redeem your time. Buy it back from the sin nature and from the world, and then re-invest it in things that really matter.”
This is enormously practical advice. Again: Your effectiveness is not determined by how much time you have; it is determined by what you do with the time you have. Be a wise and effective steward of the time God has given you. Today is a gift from God; you will not get a second chance at it. Invest wisely.
“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)